Far West Gold Recoveries operation, South Africa – update


Photo by DRDGOLD

23rd February 2024

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor


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Name of the Project
Far West Gold Recoveries (FWGR) operation.

Gauteng, South Africa.

Project Owner/s
DRDGOLD’s acquisition of Sibanye-Stillwater’s (Sibanye’s) West Rand Tailings Retreatment Project assets was finalised on July 31, 2018. Following the successful implementation of the transaction between the two companies, Sibanye owned 38.05% of the issued share capital of DRDGOLD.

Under the terms of the transaction, entered into in November 2017, Sibanye agreed to exchange selected surface-gold processing assets and tailings storage facilities (TSFs) for shares in DRDGOLD.

Sibanye also had an option to subscribe for further shares in DRDGOLD within 24 months at a 10% discount. In January 2020, Sibanye exercised this option, obtaining a 50.1% controlling interest in DRDGOLD.

Project Description
FWGR is being rolled out in a phased approach.

Phase 1 included early-stage production, involving upgrading the Driefontein 2 plant to process tailings from the Driefontein 5 dump at between 400 000 t and 600 000 t a month, and depositing the residue on the Driefontein 4 tailings dam, which was upgraded to a cyclone deposition dam to cater for the higher throughput.

Phase 2 envisages the construction of a high-volume central processing plant capable of processing between 1.2-million and 2.4-million tonnes a month, the continued use of Driefontein 2 plant at an increased 600 000 t a month, and the development of a new regional TSF capable of receiving up to three-million tonnes a month to a capacity of about 800-million tonnes.

In this phase, reclamation will initially be from the Driefontein 3, Libanon and Kloof 1 dumps, and then from the Ventersdorp North and South dumps. The scale of the infrastructure established in this phase will allow for the reclamation from other sources in the region. The objective is to clean up the regional landscape by reprocessing tailings that are currently on dolomite, and redeposit the reclaimed material onto a properly designed and managed megadam, thereby reversing the potential pollution of underground water in the region.

Phase 2 is expected to extend the life of the operation to 20 years and beyond. Phase 2 will double the capacity at the Driefontein 2 plant and includes the construction of a 800-million-tonne TSF.

As an alternative to Phase 2, or if Phase 2 is delayed, Phase 1 can be extended by extending deposition onto the Driefontein 4 tailings dam, owing to the good cyclone splits being achieved at the tailings dam. Envisaged is the treatment of the remaining tonnes from Driefontein 5 and then processing material from Driefontein 3.

Potential Job Creation
Since its inception, FWGR has secured employment for more than 150 employees and is committed to its environmental, social and governance mandate, as well as social upliftment programmes, in the far West Rand area of operations. With the implementation of Phase 2 and the extended life-of-mine (LoM), more opportunities are expected to result from DRDGOLD’s value creation activities.

Capital Expenditure
DRDGOLD invested R330-million of capital in Phase 1.

The cost of Phase 2 will depend on whether the company chooses to build a second plant and TSF or expand the existing facilities.

Planned Start/End Date
Phase 1 commercial production began within eight months of the acquisition, on April 1, 2019, and made its maiden full 12-month contribution to DRDGOLD’s financial results in the 2020 financial year.

Construction of Phase 2 is planned to be completed by 2024/5, provided the requisite amendments to existing regulatory approvals are obtained, the gold market remains favourable and an investment climate prevails that is conducive to long-term investment on this scale.

Latest Developments
FWGR hit full stride in the six months to December 31, 2023, with the newly commissioned Driefontein 3.

DRDGOLD is working on obtaining the requisite amendment to the project’s water usage licence and permission from dam safety to start construction of the regional TSF.

Key contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
None stated.

Contact Details for Project Information
R&A Strategic Communications on behalf of DRDGOLD Jane Kamau, tel +27 11 880 3924 or email

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